updated 2/7/2006 8:07:33 AM ET 2006-02-07T13:07:33

The Coca-Cola Co., the world's largest beverage maker, reported Tuesday a 28 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, but beat Wall Street expectations when certain one-time items are excluded.

The Atlanta-based company said it earned $864 million, or 36 cents a share, for the three months ending Dec. 31, compared to a profit of $1.20 billion, or 50 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Excluding one-time items — an accrual for taxes related to the repatriation of foreign earnings and charges incurred by an equity invester — Coca-Cola said it earned $1.08 billion, or 46 cents a share, in the quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 45 cents a share.

Revenue in the three-month period rose 7 percent to $5.55 billion, compared to $5.20 billion in the same period a year ago.

"This quarter we made further progress toward achieving consistent top-line growth in our business," said Neville Isdell, chairman and chief executive officer. "It completes a transition year in which the company delivered solid unit case volume growth that was well balanced between carbonated soft drinks and noncarbonated beverages."

For all of 2005, Coke said it earned $4.87 billion, or $2.04 a share, compared to a profit of $4.85 billion, or $2 a share, for all of 2004. Twelve-month revenue rose 6 percent to $23.10 billion, compared to $21.74 billion recorded in 2004.

In addition to its flagship brand and its diet and flavored alternatives, Coca-Cola also markets numerous other soft-drink, water, juice, tea and coffee brands, including Sprite, Fanta, Mello Yello and Dasani.

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